Our involvement with the Abbey Orchard estate in Westminster dates back to 1882. Prior to that, in medieval times the site was home to Westminster Abbey’s orchard.
By the late 19th century, the area was an unhealthy maze of narrow alleys and courtyards. Cottages were crammed together, alongside stables, cowsheds, coal yards, lodging houses and a ragged school for pauper children. Small and poorly ventilated homes were severely overcrowded, crime was rife, and the police entered the area at their peril. The area acquired the nickname ‘The Devil’s Acre’ and was a haunt for prostitutes.
By 1876, 459 people were living in 18 lodging houses. Peabody bought the land as part of a slum clearance scheme and had to re-house 1,700 people. We built the estate in 1882, adding Block Q in 1935 and St Ann’s Lane House in 1969.
Abbey Orchard estate is one of four Peabody estates with a memorial to the residents who died on active service during the First World War. The plaque is located on Block A.